Solid all-around performance; bright and vibrant display; 3D capable.
Poor price-to-performance ratio; heavy with power brick.
We reviewed Eurocom’s top-of-the-line mobile workstation, the Panther 2.0, in our June 2011 issue. That high-end behemoth weighed more than 15 pounds and cost upward of $5,000, but it sported a desktop Core i7-980X CPU and a pair of Radeon HD 6970s in CrossFire. This time around we’re taking a look at the company’s lighter-weight mobile workstation, the Neptune 3D.
While also billed as a high-end desktop-replacement, the Neptune 3D is far more modest than its beefy big brother. It’s based on a mobile Sandy Bridge CPU (Intel’s Core i7-2760QM) and a single mobile GPU (Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 580M). The Neptune 3D weighs less than nine pounds, but its defining feature is its 17.3-inch, 120Hz, 3D display.
Eurocom bundles one pair of Nvidia’s 3D Vision active-shutter LCD glasses with the machine, and the emitter is built into the chassis. The 1920x1080 LED-backlit panel is strikingly bright, no doubt to compensate for the darkening the glasses cause. After we turned it down a bit to evaluate the screen’s quality, we saw that it produced crisp text and still images, as well as impressively dark blacks. The display was equally impressive in motion, with no visible blurring or ghosting. The matte finish did a great job of reducing ambient glare. If you dig 3D, you’ll enjoy the 3D experience the Neptune delivers; if you’re not sold on 3D, nothing about this notebook will change your mind.
Storage comes in the form of a 250GB Intel SSD, supplemented by a 750GB mechanical hard drive. The machine is also outfitted with an optical drive that can burn Blu-ray media at 6x speed and DVDs at 8x. The chiclet-style keys are comfortable and responsive. Lap weight and a two-hour battery life are well within standard range for high-end gaming notebooks.
Aside from the 3D feature, the Neptune 3D’s all-around performance is the epitome of standard. It trounced our aging zero-point machine, but that’s exactly what we expect from a system running Sandy Bridge hardware. As a gaming laptop, the Neptune 3D is equally sufficient. The GeForce GTX 580 handled all but the most demanding games with relative ease, and the system delivered benchmark numbers on par with a similarly clocked Sandy Bridge desktop machine.
The main issue here is cost. With a price tag just shy of $3,500, we expect a bit more bang for our buck. The 3D video is nice, but it’s not enough to justify the Neptune 3D’s gaudy price tag. Eurocom should have overclocked the CPU for even better all-around performance, or dropped a second GPU under the hood for faster gaming.
Still, if you’re looking for a well-constructed desktop replacement with a sharp display, 3D capability, and strong all-around performance, the Eurocom Neptune 3D won’t disappoint. But if you’re looking to raise the bar on high-performance mobile gaming, look elsewhere; the Neptune 3D is remarkably unremarkable.